Saturday, September 22, 2012

Things, They Be a-Changin' - Part 2

I left you yesterday with the cliffhanger of Big Changes Are Coming...dun dun duuuuuun! Any guesses as to what those changes are? I'll give you a hint...I've ordered new business cards with an address on them :)


I am now the official owner of J. Paris Designs - Redesigned Home Furnishings and Accessories. My store will open some time in mid November, just in time for the holidays.


How did I come to this point? Well you remember I said I had a bad day at work one day? Seriously, that's all it took. Of course, I hadn't been happy for awhile. I would sit at work all day and just think about all the stuff I would rather be doing. I'm sure most people think like that at their 9-5, but mine was deeper than that. I really felt like I had a talent that was marketable. I felt like it was being squandered as a "hobby" rather than a "profession". I needed to do something with it, if for nothing more than my own sanity.


This is where my amazing and supportive husband comes in to play. As soon as the words "Let's really think about you doing J. Paris Designs full time" were uttered, that was all I needed. From that point on, I was setting my sights on a new business venture - being a true entrepreneur.


We crunched the numbers and tried to figure out if we could make it on one salary, assuming the worst - that J. Paris Designs wouldn't make a dime for 6 months. Would we be able to make it? The answer was yes, but lots of lifestyle changes needed to be made. It's a comfortable life that we've made for ourselves, and all of that would need to change.


I went through severe highs and severe lows those first few preliminary weeks. Some days I would think "Hell yes, I can do this!" Other days I would think "What if no one buys anything? What if I fail? What if..............?" I couldn't get over the fact that I was upending our entire life for a dream I was dreaming on a wish and a prayer. Quite honestly, I had no idea if this was going to work. I didn't (and still don't) have a business plan, I didn't have a projected budget, I was just flying by the seat of my pants. The good thing is, no one around here is doing what I'm doing - at least not with a store front. I used that as a comforting thought. I always received such great feedback from my readers about the things I had created, I felt confident that others would feel the same. I can't count the amount of times I've heard "Where do you come up with this stuff?" or "I wish I had that kind of imagination". Those kinds of comments are what fueled the fire of me thinking that others would appreciate the talent that I have. I say that as humbly as possible because I'm still trying to gain confidence in my work as an artist and designer.


There were days when I was ready to scrap the whole idea and just look for another job that would be a change of pace for me. But Dan's ever constant support and confidence in me is truly what kept me from throwing in the towel. "Every piece you do gets better and better" he would say. When he would brag about me to friends and family, he made my heart swell with confidence. He believed in me, and therefore I had to believe in myself. We are a team and we are in this together.


I knew I wanted a storefront close to home, so we searched in the surrounding retail areas for "For Rent" signs. Most of the numbers I called were for places waaaaay out of our price range. I got discouraged, and of course started being Negative Nancy, assuming we would never be able to afford anything! One day, a sign caught my eye in front of a shabby looking brick building about four blocks from our house. It wasn't in a prime retail development or strip plaza, but it was close. I called on it and met the man a few days later. The place was in our price range, the landlord was incredibly nice, it was super close to home, it. was. small. Small, small. Like, big enough for a table and a few chairs small. When he showed us the inside, I was devastated. In my head, in just a few short days from the time I saw the sign, I had already moved my stuff in. We thanked him and started to leave when he mentioned the spot next door. It wasn't technically for rent, but I asked if we could just see it. The moment we walked in the door, I knew this was it. Dan, not so much. He couldn't see what I could see. The place had been vacant of a business for over ten years. It had been used as the man's storage area and was packed FULL of stuff. It needed a lot of work. But I didn't care, I wanted it.


From that point forward, I've gone full speed ahead. I finally had the green light to obtain and stash as much furniture as possible so as to have an inventory. It didn't take long for me to fill the garage then move into the basement, back porch, office, and spare bedroom. My sickness finally had an excuse to run rampant!! I began scouring the internet and magazines for project ideas and inspiration. During the day, my head would be reeling from the ideas running through it. At night I would work until it was dark outside in the garage. Every spare moment has been dedicated to getting everything ready. I lost sleep - and fully expect to lose much more in the coming months - due to tossing and turning and worrying and stressing. I've really been a mess. But I'm making it work.


When I told my dad (who used to own his own plumbing business) he said "Jess, I did it with a wife and two kids! All you can do is give it a go. What's the worst that can happen? You have to go out and get another job?" That really gave me confidence. He was right. I still had my degree no matter what. I could always find something else if this didn't work out.


Until now, only our parents and siblings new about the plan. I was very cautious who I told and what I told them. This wasn't something I wanted to blurt out to the world when I was still worried that it was just a fabrication in my head! But it is real....real scary. It is by far the most exhilarating/frustrating/terrifying/exciting thing I have ever done. I'm going to be my own boss :)


I don't know where this will go, I don't know how long it will survive, I don't even know if I'm doing it right. But making mistakes means I'm doing SOMETHING and that is all I can ask. My mantra has been "Your dream job doesn't exist, you have to create it" and I've repeated that to myself time and time again. I'm creating it, just like I create everything else.


Besides, if I don't do it now, when will I do it?


So thank you to everyone for reading this blog and commenting on my projects and supporting me in any way. This is a HUGE adventure I'm starting and I truly appreciate everything you've done to help me on my way :)  And if you have any free advice, I would be more than willing to hear it!!     NOTE: I'm no computer tech by any means, but I'm attempting to create my own website in the next few weeks.  That being said, I'm not sure how well the transition will be from Blogger to Wordpress.  I won't be writing any new posts until the switch, but be sure to follow along on Facebook/jparisdesigns!!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Things, They Be a-Changin' - Part 1

I don't know about you, but whenever I find a new DIY website or blog, the first place I look is the About Me section.  I love reading about people's background stories - how they came to be where they are.  Especially if they started out doing something completely different.  In the spirit of that thinking, I would like to share with you my story:

Making things has always been my hobby.  I'm the little girl who used her mom's old-school sewing machine to make Christmas presents and stuffed animals as far back as I can remember.  I get it from my mom, who is the Crafting Queen.  Christmas ornaments, Holiday outfits, doll clothes...You name it, she made it.  

In junior high I "started a business" for handmade clothes (I was going to be the next great fashion designer).  I busted out my magic markers and poster board and made a flyer with sizes and prices and showed it to all my friends at school.  I gave the business a name and everything, though I'll be damned if I can remember what it was!  I even wore some of the clothes I made as examples of my work.  Now, you must know, I didn't use a pattern and one of the skirts I made was bright satin orange material from the bottom of my mom's fabric pile.  But MAN - I rocked it!  Then right after high school, I started another "business" selling things made out of duck tape.  It was right when all the bright colors were really popular and I bought rolls and rolls and rolls of the stuff (I also used every last bit of the real deal from my dad's garage stash).  I made purses and lunchboxes and tote bags and wallets and roses and pins and....well you get the picture.  I sold them at craft shows and to friends at work.  It was fun, and I made some extra spending money.  It was called "RiDUCKulous" - I'm so clever - and again, I made a big sign that hung on the table at the shows.  I was a young entrepreneur and I was going to make it big one day!

Eventually, I got on this furniture kick.  Picking up roadside finds.  Visiting thrift stores.  Making cool stuff out of junk.  I still remember my first roadside dresser - boy was that a rush!  My senior year of college I even did an Independent Study elective on fixing up furniture and documented the steps.  

When I moved out of my parents' house and into my own apartment, I had accumulated enough furniture that I didn't need to buy anything but a sofa to outfit my new place.  Everything in the small apartment was something I had handcrafted in one way or another.  Once out on my own, I began to move my furniture collection into Dan's house.  The basement primarily, but that quickly spread into the garage and other rooms.  By the time we moved in together six months before our wedding, I had enough pieces to furnish the entire house.  We actually had to have a garage sale to get rid of the stuff we didn't have room for.  That was a year and a half ago and since then,  it's only gotten worse.  

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I am addicted to furniture.

I openly admit it.  I have a problem.  I CANNOT pass up a good/free deal.  It is in my blood and a definite passion.  I can't remember the last day off I had that didn't consist of me working on one project or another.  Or if there were other things I needed to do or places I needed to go, I would constantly be thinking about a project I had waiting for me.  I would happily spend my free time working on fixing something up.  Eight hours would literally fly by with me wishing I had another eight.  And when I would come home with "just one more chair", Dan would give me that look, shake his head, and stuff it into the basement.  He has no patience for slow drivers, tangled Christmas lights, or a knotted rope, but my goodness he is patient with me.  It's why I married him.  He doesn't get it, but he gets it...ya know what I mean??

It got to a point where family and friends would call me with a "I found something by the road, do you want it?" statement and I would always say yes.  That's how I got one of the chairs in our living room.

I always toyed with the idea of owning a shop one day that consisted of all the things that I made.  I thought it would be fun, but knew that it was probably a far off dream.  So I had gone to college, got the degree, got the "Dream Job" as an interior designer and settled in to a life of routine.  Now, I'm not about to bite the hand that fed me for a year and a half by bashing my job, but it wasn't what I wanted.  At first, yes.  But after a while, it just wasn't challenging me.  And if I'm being honest, I wasn't very good at it.  At least the sales part of it.  I could help people pick out colors and design their kitchen back-splashes all day long, but I just wasn't meant to sell flooring as a profession.  I got bored.  I needed something to do or make or create....what I was really passionate about.  Again, that starting-my-own-business thing was always in the back of my mind, but I always cast it off as a pipe dream. 

And then one day, I snapped.  Pressure at work had built up, my anger finally surfaced, and I cried all the way home.  The particulars aren't important, but what matters is that it was the catalyst I needed to make some changes.

That was about two months ago and since then, some big changes have taken place.  I'll leave you with that, since reading an incredibly long personal story all at once can get boring.  And I don't want you to leave and never come back.  I'll share the rest with you tomorrow, so make sure to check back to see where these changes are taking me. :)